Prospects are always a hot topic in the NHL. What teams have the best farm systems? Who’s the best prospect for each team? Which prospect is better than another? There is constant discussion about prospects in the league, and the landscape is always changing.
Prospects graduate, they get traded, they perform better or worse than expected, and sometimes they simply don’t make the cut. In recent years, it seems like the talent pool is getting deeper and better as the years go on. With a wealth of skilled prospects in the league, I take a look at the top-100 in the league.
As the definition of what constitutes a prospect varies from source to source, I stick with the same explanation as I have in my other prospect posts. A skater is a prospect if he’s played less than 25 NHL games in a campaign (regular season and playoffs combined), less than 50 games total, or reaches 25 by Sept. 15
This list will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back often and see who takes the crown as the current top prospect and where the others fall.
Also, note that this list does not include goaltenders. To see the ranking of the top goalie prospects in the league, you can view that here.
This update should be including the 2020 NHL Draftees, but alas – we haven’t had that draft yet. The next update to this list will include the newest wave of NHL prospects, but for now, we’ll look at the existing NHL-affiliated players.
As always, feel free to reach out with questions, comments or thoughts. This can either be done in the comment section at the bottom or send me a message on Twitter – @JoshuaBellTHW.
The NHL’s Top-100 Prospects
Graduated Prospects (Previous Rank in Brackets)
- Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers (92)
- Oliwer Kaski, Carolina Hurricanes (75)
- Ryan Poehling, Montreal Canadiens (42)
- Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues (27)
- Noah Dobson, New York Islanders (26)
- Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs (17)
- Adam Boqvist, Chicago Blackhawks (9)
- Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings (4)
100: Urho Vaakanainen, Boston Bruins
Previous Rank: 99
A patient, smart defenseman, the Urho Vaakanainen is a player that every team would love to have in their system. He’s not going to rack up the points, but he’ll keep them from being piled up against you. He’s a great skater who seems to nearly always make the right decision. He won’t be on this list very long, the 2020-21 season might just be his year.
99: Isac Lundestrom, Anaheim Ducks
Previous Rank: 97
Isac Lundstrom’s well-rounded ability is what made the Anaheim Ducks select him 23rd overall in 2018. He’s a great passer and a strong two-way centreman. While he’s shown flashes of offensive flair, he’ll likely end up as a solid shutdown centreman in the middle-six. It’s looking likely that he’ll be graduating from this list very soon.
98: Kristian Vesalainen, Winnipeg Jets
Previous Rank: 93
Kristian Vesalainen is a highly-skilled winger of immense size and determination. Capable of physically dominating his opponents with relative ease before pounding a heavy shot on net, he’s a natural goal scorer who is also more than willing to distribute the puck to his teammates. Vesalainen boasts all the makings of a successful power-forward.
97: Sasha Chmelevski, San Jose Sharks
Previous Rank: 96
Sasha Chmelevski has been an absolute stud in the OHL for the last few seasons and brought that to the AHL in 2019-20. He’s one of the Sharks top prospects, with a ton of skill and potential. He isn’t the best skater and his play in his own end needs some work, but he’s an offensive threat that has shown all-around improvement year after year. His time is coming, and he could really surprise when he gets there.
96: Kevin Bahl, New Jersey Devils
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes, the Devils acquired defender Kevin Bahl in the Taylor Hall trade. He’s a surprisingly good skater for his 6-foot-7 frame, transitioning well with his fairly high top speed. He’s very smart defensively – a solid decision maker with and without the puck. He could very well be a top-four defender, partnered with someone offensive like Ty Smith.
95: Ryan Johnson, Buffalo Sabres
Previous Rank: 91
A great two-way defender, Ryan Johnson doesn’t have high-end offense, but he has everything else. He’s a strong skater, with excellent edges. He gets over-eager sometimes, pinching and getting caught, but as he continues to develop he’ll know when to time his attack. Until then, he’s solid in his own end and is a very promising defender for the Sabres. He should be a top-four defenseman in Buffalo in a few years.
94: Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Pittsburgh Penguins
Previous Rank: 100
Pierre-Oliver Joseph is an excellent puck-mover who boasts the ability to move the puck to his teammates quickly and efficiently. He’s a premier young defender who should become a much more intimidating force once he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame. He has a ton of potential, but it may still be a year or two before we see him on the NHL ice.
93: Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 98
Despite many Ottawa Senators fans being disappointed in Shane Pinto being selected 32nd overall in 2019, the prospect is very promising. Pinto is one of those players that just does everything right. He likely won’t blow up the scoresheet as he did at the 2020 World Junior Championship, but he does have the skill to provide some offense, work the special teams, and be a solid player in the NHL.
92: Alex Vlasic, Chicago Blackhawks
Previous Rank: 95
At 6-foot-6, 198 pounds, Alex Vlasic already has the build of an NHL player. He’s excellent in his own end, using his size to rub opponents off the puck and his long reach to break up plays. He makes great plays with the puck in his own end and if he can translate his skill defensively to the offensive end, he could be an all-around great player.
91: Mattias Samuelsson, Buffalo Sabres
Previous Rank: 88
You won’t look to Mattias Samuelsson for offense, but you’ll look to him on a regular basis. There’s a very good chance that Samuelsson is one of the best defensive defensemen yet to hit the NHL. He has top-four potential and he has leader written all over him. He’s captained Team USA at the U16, U18, and U20 level, on top of Western Michigan University in just his second year in the NCAA. Buffalo is going to love him.
90: Yevgeni Svechnikov, Detroit Red Wings
Previous Rank: 89
Once thought to potentially be the next star for the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeny Svechnikov has lost some of the fanfare behind him. It’s taken him a long time (drafted in 2015), but his time is getting close. He still has a high ceiling, with the potential for top-six. He’s shown elite offense in the past, and even though he’s trailed off in recent years, I’d chalk that up to confidence over lack of skill. Just wait until he breaks through. Don’t give up on him yet.
89: Olli Juolevi, Vancouver Canucks
Previous Rank: 78
I’m not sure Olli Juolevi will ever live up to his fifth-overall pick in 2017. He’s good offensively, is an above-average skater, and transitions well, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to take that next step and succeed. I think he’ll be a full-time NHLer but as a bottom-four defenseman. He could also have a breakout season and make me eat those words, though.
88: Isaac Ratcliffe, Philadelphia Flyers
Previous Rank: 87
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe is a big forward (6-foot-6) who loves to score goals. He had 50 of them in 2018-19 with the OHL’s Guelph Storm and added another 15 in the playoffs. He’s not the best skater, but if he can bring his offensive ability to the NHL level, goaltenders better watch out. With the youth that’s been infused to the Flyers lineup, Ratcliffe might just find himself in the lineup very soon.
87: Carl Grundstrom, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 86
Carl Grundstrom is a power forward with a great shot. He can usually be found right in front of the opposing goaltender, using his 6-foot frame to screen their vision. While he’s not great defensively, he brings a certain level of grit to the lineup that is sure to get under the skin of the opponent. He likely won’t end up as a top-line guy, but he should be a solid, complementary middle-six player.
86: Jett Woo, Vancouver Canucks
Previous Rank: 85
If this was a list of the best prospect names in the league, Jett Woo would be higher. The defenseman is coming off a great career in the WHL, as one of the top defenders in the league. He’s a good skater who isn’t afraid to throw his body around. At the very least, he’ll be a top-four defender. I like this player more every time I see him. He should jump to at least the AHL for 2020-21.
85: Martin Kaut, Colorado Avalanche
Previous Rank: 83
Martin Kaut is another one of those players that likely won’t be cracking any highlight reels but does everything right. He can play on either special team, he’s very smart with the puck and makes great decisions. He’s a good skater who’s very consistent as what he does. He’ll chip in offensively on a regular basis and despite his struggles this season, there’s still a promising prospect there.
84. Jack Dugan, Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
After being taken in the fifth round, 142nd overall in 2017, it’s safe to say Jack Dugan has outperformed expectations. The left winger exploded in 2019-20 for the NCAA’s Providence College, leading all NCAA players in points (52) and finishing as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. He’s jumping to the AHL for 2020-21, and it may not be long before he’s knocking on the NHL door.
83: Serron Noel, Florida Panthers
Previous Rank: 82
A potential top-six forward at the NHL level, Serron Noel has spent the last few years showing off his offensive ability in the OHL. He’s the definition of a power forward, at 6-foot-5, 209 pounds and a flair for offence. He has great hands, a very nice shot, and he’s physical. As he continues to develop, he should look very good down in Florida.
82: Conor Timmins, Colorado Avalanche
Previous Rank: 90
After missing over a year of competitive hockey, Connor Timmins came back for the 2019-20 season, making the Colorado Avalanche opening night roster. He was ultimately sent down, but his ability to miss that much time and come into the NHL for the first time is incredible. He’s an excellent two-way defender who has been known to provide some offense. He’s great on his feet and is incredibly smart with the puck. The Avalanche’s defensive group is looking terrifying for the future.
81: Lassi Thomson, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 81
Yet another selection that Senators fans weren’t thrilled with, I think they will be one day. Lassi Thomson might be the whole package. He has experience as a leader, can provide offense, he’s an excellent skater, and he’s improving in his own end. If the puck isn’t on his stick, you can bet he’s working to get it there – he never gives up.
80: Lucas Elvenes, Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
Lucas Elvenes exudes creativity and it shows up in both his puckhandling and his playmaking. He just completed a very impressive rookie season in the AHL, turning heads along the way. He’s a very offensively gifted player and could very well project to be a top-six player in the NHL. Just like Dugan, this 2017 fifth-round prospect keeps getting better and should be ready to take the next step soon.
79: Yegor Zamula, Philadelphia Flyers
Previous Rank: 94
Yegor Zamula uses his big frame (6-foot-3) to his advantage and is very hard to knock off the puck. He wins most puck battles and net-front battles, makes a crisp first pass out of the zone, and can rip the puck. What makes his play more impressive is that Zamula is an undrafted prospect. That’s right, he was passed over in 2018 (despite being ranked 100th by ISS Hockey and 105 by FCHockey). The Flyers invited him to their training camp that year, signing him to an entry-level contract in the middle of the camp.
78: Alexander Alexeyev, Washington Capitals
Previous Rank: 80
The Washington Capitals love their Russians, and it looks like they’ve landed another solid one in Alexander Alexeyev. The defender stands at 6-foot-4 and is another all-around defender. He has a great shot, is hard on the body, and knows what to do in his own end. There really isn’t much the left-hand shot can’t do and the Capitals’ fans are going to adore him.
77: Calen Addison, Minnesota Wild
Previous Rank: 79
Calen Addison could very well be a top-four defender for the Wild in a few years. He’s a great skater and a solid playmaker. He’s a couple of years away, but the 2018 second-round pick shows a great deal of promise. There seems to be no question that the young player will be a future power play quarterback. I’m willing to bet that the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to regret moving him one day.
76: Alexander Khovanov, Minnesota Wild
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
The Wild’s prospect pool has a couple of high-end wingers in the system (which we’ll get to), but not a whole lot in terms of centremen. Alexander Khovanov is looking to prove that wrong though. Finishing second in QMJHL scoring in 2019-20 with 99 points, the forward put his playmaking and vision on full display. He likely won’t be a 1C, but he could very well be a productive middle-six pivot.
75: Tyler Madden, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 84
Another King on this list could shoot up if he continues the success he’s had in the NCAA. As a rookie, Tyler Madden took the league by storm, impressing many scouts along the way. He’s one of the most creative prospects in the entire league, with speed for days, and great playmaking ability. With the Canucks trading him to the stacked Kings organization, you can expect some fans to be thinking “what if” very soon.
74: Samuel Poulin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
The one first-round pick that the Pittsburgh Penguins have had since 2014, Samuel Poulin is the system’s top prospect by a wide margin. Poulin might not be too far away from the NHL. He was invited to the Penguins Return to Play training camp in July 2020, and he’s had back-to-back impressive seasons in the QMJHL The power forward holds a lot of promise.
73: Jamieson Rees, Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Rank: 76
Jamieson Rees just keeps getting better. He’s easily becoming one of my favourite prospects. He uses his elite speed and very high hockey IQ to stun his opponents offensively and then doesn’t give anything back by killing penalties and defending very well. He never gives up, no matter where he is on the ice making him always dangerous. You could say he’s a two-way forward, but he might actually be a playmaking two-way forward. At 44th overall in 2019, I think he’ll end up being a steal.
72: Brayden Tracey, Anaheim Ducks
Previous Rank: 74
The Anaheim Ducks’ second first-round pick in 2019, Brayden Tracey is all offence. And yet, he can play in his own end too. Tracey has a knack for goal-scoring and he seems to continue to get better. He has great hands to match as well. On top of these, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player who battles as hard as he does. He’s going to be a fan favourite for sure.
71: John Beecher, Boston Bruins
Previous Rank: 72
Is it possible that the Bruins have the next Patrice Bergeron in their ranks? Alright, John Beecher might not be at that level, but that’s the game he plays. He’s effective in all three zones of the rink, can chip in offensively and knowns how to throw his body around. On top of this, he’s a great skater. As I said, he’s not Bergeron, but he could be Bergeron-esque.
70: Akil Thomas, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 73
Akil Thomas is now Canadian royalty thanks to the gold-medal clinching goal against the Russians at the 2020 World Juniors. But it’s not that that puts him on this board. He has tons of skill, he’s great on his feet, and it seems like he has the puck on a string. The Kings have a very deep prospect pool and Thomas should be near the top of that.
69: Jan Jeník, Arizona Coyotes
Previous Rank: 71
There’s a very good chance that Jan Jeník could be a superstar in the NHL. He’s shown what he’s capable of in the OHL, including a 26-game point streak in 2019-20. He can score, he can pass, and he can skate. He’s extremely creative and looks to be one of the best players in the OHL right now. The Coyotes may have gotten a steal in drafting him 65th overall in 2018.
68: Raphael Lavoie, Edmonton Oilers
Previous Rank: 70
Despite not being the most consistent player, Raphael Lavoie shows a ton of promise. He’s solid in his own end for a player of his age, he has a great shot and he’s not afraid to get physical. He does occasionally disappear in games, but if he can work on making an impact every time he hits the ice, the Oilers may have drafted a stud in Lavoie.
67: Ty Dellandrea, Dallas Stars
Previous Rank: 68
Dallas Stars’ Ty Dellandrea is a two-way forward who brings just about everything to his game. For his age, he’s very good defensively and he can produce as well. Maybe not as much as some scouts would like, but there’s no questioning his talent. He’s a great skater, is a solid playmaker and never seems to stop competing. He’s one of my favourite prospects.
66: Kirill Marchenko, Columbus Blue Jackets
Previous Rank: 66
Kirill Marchenko is another prospect that could prove me wrong with this ranking. He’s a great skater and an even better puck handler. He’s a player that could break into the league and make an immediate impact. His production isn’t as consistent as many would like, but he should continue to develop and improve.
65: Jeremy Bracco, Toronto Maple Leafs
Previous Rank: 61
An older player on this list, Jeremy Bracco was selected back in 2015, 61st overall. He’s blossomed into a high-end playmaker, with qualities that some deem elite. He has great offensive awareness, is great on the powerplay, and is a good skater. He’s not great defensively and he’s undersized at 5-foot-9 (not that that’s really a factor anymore), but Bracco is a solid prospect for the Maple Leafs. Some have soured on him, but I think there’s still potential here. I expect him to get a new start very soon.
64: Patrik Puistola, Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Rank: 65
Patrik Puistola can score, that’s proven in his stats. But what stands out most for the young player is how he makes it happen. Many scouts and hockey experts said that the Finnish prospect had the best hands in the 2019 NHL Draft. His puckhandling is off the charts, making it seem at times that the puck is tied to his stick. He’s a very creative player, who can very easily make defenders look bad.
63: Jacob Bernard-Docker, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 69
Don’t sleep on Jacob Bernard-Docker. Arguably the best defender for Team Canada at the 2020 World Juniors, “JBD” really brings it all to the table. He keeps getting better and better offensively, is solid in his own end, and is a great skater. He can run any special team group and does so regularly. At this point, I would say that his floor is a top-four NHL defenseman.
62: Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars
Previous Rank: 62
The top-scoring player in the CHL for 2018-19 is an absolutely lethal threat in on offense. He’s an excellent passer with a great shot that can surprise the opposition with a quick goal or a perfect pass. His skating has brought up some concern from scouts, as he has a lack of acceleration. Keeping up with the pace of the NHL might be an issue, but if he can improve or find a way to cope, he should become a top-six player.
61: Anttoni Honka, Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Rank: 63
Anttoni Honka is an excellent skater with high puck skill. This leads to a great start to the rush and once in the offensive end, the young defender knows what to do. He’s extremely offensively-gifted and very underrated at this point. Selected 83rd overall in 2019, it won’t be long before Honka proves that selection wrong.
60: Jack Studnicka, Boston Bruins
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
Alright, full discrepancy – I probably should have had Studnicka in my midseason update. But I didn’t, and that’s seen him start on this list at No. 60. This will likely be his only time on this list though since he’s already shown what he can do with the Bruins. He’s solid at both ends of the ice and he contributes offensively, leading the Providence Bruins in goals, assists, and points in 2019-20. Get used to seeing him in Boston.
59: Samuel Fagemo, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 67
After going undrafted in 2018, Samuel Fagemo was selected 50th overall in 2019. He was passed over due to injuries and inconsistency, but he had a solid bounce-back season in 2018-19. He’s good all over, but not great in any one area. Still, he’s shown flashes of being a very skilled player. His ceiling seems to be all over the place so far, but he should end up as a contributing NHLer.
58: Bobby Brink, Philadelphia Flyers
Previous Rank: 64
Bobby Brink is an elite playmaker and knowns how to rack up the points. His vision is among the best of all NHL prospects and there’s a lot to like about his potential. There’s a big knock against him though and that’s his skating. His stride is off, making for a low top-speed and not great acceleration. He ends up being very choppy in his movement. If he can clean this up, there’s potential to shoot up this list.
57: Alex Barre-Boulet, Tampa Bay Lightning
Previous Rank: 59
An undrafted player that is looking more and more like an absolute steal every day, Alex Barre-Boulet has the skill to match his sense of the game. He’s creative enough to find his way through defenders and patient enough to wait for the perfect time to make a pass. He’s continuously improving on his skating, which was once a weak spot. It still needs work but he’s much better now.
56: Timothy Liljegren, Toronto Maple Leafs
Previous Rank: 58
A fluid skater of tremendous speed and mobility, Timothy Liljegren is an excellent all-around defender who can score and defend consistently. Although his defensive game is in need of fine-tuning, the Swede has the ability to stifle opposing scoring chances before transitioning the puck up ice with a crisp pass. Boasting a powerful shot, Liljegren can fire the puck on net too, although he is much more successful when it comes to creating plays.
55: Josh Norris, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 60
Josh Norris is a pass-first player who loves to dish the puck to his teammates but can also shoot the puck with authority – a trait which is certainly one of the most easily overlooked aspects of his game. In all, a sizeable centre with skills and smarts, Norris should develop into a sturdy and reliable player for the Senators. As he keeps growing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a top-six player (as I’ve been saying since they acquired him).
54: Josh Brook, Montreal Canadiens
Previous Rank: 57
While there isn’t really one aspect of Josh Brook’s game that stands out, he’s a very well-rounded prospect. He’s a good skater who exits the zone well or can dish out a pass to get the puck up ice. He’s patient and precise on the offensive blue line, waiting for the opportune moment to shoot or pass. He defends well, and his jam-packed toolkit should lead to him being a solid NHL defender.
53: Cal Foote, Tampa Bay Lightning
Previous Rank: 56
Cal Foote is a tremendous two-way defender whose game flourishes at both ends of the ice. Reliable in the defensive end due to his immense size and ability to physically dominate his opponents, he’s also a threat in the offensive zone, where his incredible hockey sense and underrated shot make him a focal point. Foote is immensely versatile, as he can play in seemingly any situation – whether it be the power play or penalty kill – and find great success in doing so.
52: Tobias Björnfot, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 55
Tobias Björnfot’s hockey sense is very high, and he’s already an elite skater. Those two qualities combined allow him to lead the rush out of the defensive end, transitioning the play quickly and effectively. He’s able to drive the play, make crisp passes and adds a quick, hard shot to his game. He also knows how to handle the puck. He surprised many by cracking the Kings lineup for opening night in 2019-20, and it won’t be long before he’s back.
51: Nolan Foote, New Jersey Devils
Previous Rank: 53
The younger brother to Cal, Nolan Foote seems to have already surpassed his brother in potential. Foote still needs to work on his skating, but his shot is out of this world. It seems to be getting harder and faster. He’s great with the puck, and there’s really not much he can’t do with it. The Lightning drafted him because they love their goal-scorers to have a hard, heavy shot, and Foote has that all over, but then they moved him to the Devils. You can expect him to use that shot against Tampa soon.
50. Scott Perunovich, St. Louis Blues
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
Another player that likely should have been in my midseason ranking, Scott Perunovich made anyone who wasn’t paying attention notice this season, winning the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in the NCAA. He’s an excellent skater that can drive the rush and make a stellar play in transition. The top prospect for the St. Louis Blues could very much be headed to the NHL in 2019-20.
49: Tyler Benson, Edmonton Oilers
Previous Rank: 50
Tyler Benson is an incredibly mature and poised prospect of the Oilers. He has great size and intelligence, incredible hockey sense, and the ability to make the right play with stunning regularity. Capable of improving the play of his teammates, Benson is an excellent talent who, if able to stay healthy, could become a tremendous depth option for the Oilers in the immediate future.
48: Oliver Wahlstrom, New York Islanders
Previous Rank: 51
The New York Islanders have an offensive weapon waiting to be unleashed in Oliver Wahlstrom. The forward is extremely skilled and has one of the best shots not in the NHL. He’s also a good setup man but has a shoot-first mentality. Wahlstrom needs to work on his skating, his consistency, and there are times where he doesn’t seem to compete as hard as he could, but he’s still a very good prospect.
47: Eeli Tolvanen, Nashville Predators
Previous Rank: 40
Eeli Tolvanen is an incredibly skilled winger of immense potential. A natural goal scorer whose shot is both accurate and heavy, he can snap a quick wrister on net or set up for a booming one-timer while on the power play. He’s is a very strong offensive talent that is absolutely lethal in the offensive zone. It’s taken him a long time, but the skill is still there.
46: Jakob Pelletier, Calgary Flames
Previous Rank: 48
The 26th overall pick in 2019, Jakob Pelletier is an all-around stud prospect. He’s good in his own end and can set up plays in the opposing zone. He’s put up solid points in the QMJHL so far and will look to build on that this season. His agility is what sets him apart and combined with his creativity, he’s a difficult player to defend. He’s likely a top-six player with the potential for the top-line.
45: Dominik Bokk, Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Rank: 47
When you watch Dominik Bokk play, it’s impossible not to notice the skill he has with his hands. He keeps the puck on a string and can undress defenders. He makes highlight-reel passes on a regular basis and his skating is improving, which is a good sign. He’ll need to keep working on skating, and his overall consistency, but all signs point to Bokk being a solid NHL player.
44: Alex Formenton, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 46
When you think of Alex Formenton, you think of speed. He’s one of the fastest prospects in the league, already putting NHL defenders on their heels in his short stints with the team. He has some more developing to do before he hits the NHL full time, but he’s getting close. You’ll often find him battling hard for the puck – and winning.
43: Logan Brown, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 43
Senators prospect Logan Brown is a big (6-foot-6) centreman who is coming off a big season in the AHL in 2018-19. He’s a very talented playmaker, with the ability to surprise a goalie with a good shot. But he’ll check for any available passes first. He’s continuing to improve as time goes on, and while he’s taken longer than others from his 2016 draft class, he still looks like he could be a top-six player in the NHL. He’ll likely graduate this season.
42: Ryan Merkley, San Jose Sharks
Previous Rank: 41
Young defender Ryan Merkley is lethal in the offensive zone, is a high-end playmaker, and has a great shot. He needs to work on his play in his own end and his attitude, but there’s no question that there’s a solid player in Merkley. He was traded before the 2019-20 season from the Peterborough Petes to the London Knights, which will hopefully be his last stop before San Jose.
41: Cam York, Philadelphia Flyers
Previous Rank: 39
One of the best defensemen coming out of the 2019 NHL Draft, Cam York should develop into a top-two defenseman when he hits the NHL. He has excellent vision and makes great decisions with and without the puck. He’s patient and has a great stride. All of this combines into a solid defensive prospect for the Flyers.
40: Ville Heinola, Winnipeg Jets
Previous Rank: 38
One of my favourite defensemen in the 2019 NHL Draft, Ville Heinola is the definition of hockey sense. He’s patient with the puck, has a calming presence on the ice, and makes zone-exits with ease. He’s great positionally, especially in his own end, but he does need to work on his skating in order to thrive at the next level. He’s still young though, so there’s still time to improve this. Early on, it looks like he’s made strides in this (pun intended).
39: Pavel Dorofeyev, Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Rank: 35
One of my personal favourite prospects from the 2019 NHL Draft, Pavel Dorofeyev will very soon prove his third-round, 79th pick wrong. He’s an all-around offensive threat who can just as easily set up a goal as he can finish it himself. He holds his own defensively, and his creativity adds to his arsenal. He’s just going to get better, and the Golden Knights are counting on that.
38: Ryan Suzuki, Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Rank: 37
The younger brother of Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki, Ryan Suzuki makes plays like few others. He’s an elite passer, is a great puck handler, and he’s a great skater. His shot is in need of improvement, but he’s still young. He’s a great prospect that should develop into a top-six NHLer in a few seasons. I’m not sure that he’ll reach his brother’s level, but he should come close.
37: Adam Beckman, Minnesota Wild
Previous Ranked: 77
Adam Beckman is one of the most well-rounded prospects out there. He can fill the back of the net, makes a great pass, but can hold his own in the defensive end. He regularly forces turnovers in both ends with some solid defending and aggressive forechecking. He makes quick, smart decisions constantly and is proving his low selection wrong early. He’s going to be a fan favourite.
36: Aleksi Heponiemi, Florida Panthers
Previous Rank: 32
Aleksi Heponiemi is a high-end prospect with elite playmaking ability. Offence tends to run through him when he’s on the ice. His hockey IQ is through the roof, he’s creative, and that’s a dangerous combination in the offensive end. He’s not the fastest skater, so he might not be able to win a race to the puck all the time, but if the Panthers can get it to him, he’ll do the rest.
35: Philip Tomasino, Nashville Predators
Previous Rank: 36
Philip Tomasino is going to be a fan favourite for Predators fans very soon. He’s an excellent skater, with arguably elite puck-skills. He’s a very good playmaker, often making extremely creative passes through traffic. He’ll need to bulk up a bit, as he’s sometimes pushed around a bit, but Tomasino has a very full toolkit that will lead to him being a threat in the NHL very soon – likely in 2020-21.
34: Victor Söderström, Arizona Coyotes
Previous Rank: 45
Victor Söderström a two-way defender that excels at moving the puck up the ice. Many scouts say that he won’t be a game-breaker, but he should be a dependable defenseman in all scenarios which is a great asset to have. He creates offence, he’s hard to beat one-on-one and he loves to throw his body around. He was one of the best defenders at the 2020 World Juniors and is looking very good for the Coyotes right now.
33: Matthew Boldy, Minnesota Wild
Previous Rank: 49
Anywhere you look, Matthew Boldy is described as “silky” and “smooth.” His ability with the puck is one of the best in the draft and mixed with his vision on the ice, he’s always a threat to punish defences. One of his biggest assets, though, is the adaptability to shift his game for the good of the team. Whether that means switching wings, or even from a sniper to a playmaker, Boldy is able to sense what the team needs from him and excel in that role. After a tough start to his NCAA career, he broke out in the second half of 2019-20, proving that he’s still a very promising young player.
32. Gabe Vilardi, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: Not Ranked
Likely the biggest omission from my 2019-20 midseason update, Gabe Vilardi proved doubters wrong this season. After playing just four games in 2018-19, Vilardi came back in 2019-20 and put up 25 points in 32 games in the AHL and an impressive seven points in his first 10 NHL games. A dynamic centre that excels at both ends of the rink, Vilardi will be a name that you get to know very well soon.
31: Vitali Kravtsov, New York Rangers
Previous Rank: 11
Vitali Kravtsov will need to be double-teamed by defences because there are not many defenders in the NHL that will be able to stop him single-handed. He’s an incredibly creative player that has a pass-first mentality. He’s a high-end playmaker and has the ability to change the course of a game. He’ll be a core piece of the Rangers moving forward. Don’t let this season’s headlines and performance fool you, he’s still a high-potential player.
30: Rasmus Kupari, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 31
Rasmus Kupari is an incredibly skilled player. He’s a strong skater, he has great puck-handling ability and loves making plays. He can be a game-breaker, but there are still some kinks to work out of his game. He’s not great defensively, but that’s something that will be constantly taught and should come with further development.
29: Jake Bean, Carolina Hurricanes
Previous Rank: 44
A poised defender of immense intelligence, Jake Bean is a tremendous two-way player who thrives at both ends of the ice. Strong in his defensive zone through the use of his stick and the ability to read plays before they develop, he can transition the puck to his forwards with ease and is capable of joining the rush as it progresses. A hard-worker and relentless talent, Bean drives offence in the opposing zone through his ability to create plays and willingness to unleash his crisp shot when the appropriate moment arises.
28: Nils Höglander, Vancouver Canucks
Previous Rank: 34
Nils Höglander has some of the best hands in the 2019 draft and combines it with great skating and speed that makes it difficult to defend against him. That set of skills also allows him many opportunities on the breakaway, where he can pull off a highlight-reel play. He’s able to play the game at a very fast pace and make the right plays while doing so. He even holds his own in the defensive end and brings an exciting level of grit to his game.
27: Nils Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Previous Rank: 33
Nils Lundqvist has become one of the top defensive prospects in the league. He’s feet and always working hard, and his ability to move the puck is practically elite. He’s incredibly smart and can get the puck up the ice himself or with a strong pass with ease. His offensive production is extremely impressive in the SHL, and it might not be long before he’s showing his skill in North America.
26: Thomas Harley, Dallas Stars
Previous Rank: 30
Thomas Harley looks like he could be a top-four defenseman in the NHL. He plays big minutes and sets up plays very well. The best part of his game though is his elite skating. There’s a lot of upside to his game, and we could see that as early as 2020-21 after his NHL debut in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s one of the best prospects in the transition, which we’ll be seeing in Dallas very soon.
25: Owen Tippett, Florida Panthers
Previous Rank: 28
Owen Tippett’s incredible goal-scoring ability should immediately address an issue that has plagued the Panthers for quite some time now. The one facet of his game which stands tall above the rest is his insane shot. With a lightning-quick release and speed, Tippett’s shot is consistently overwhelming and, on top of its weight, is surprisingly accurate.
24: K’Andre Miller, New York Rangers
Previous Rank: 29
Among the many strong prospects that the Rangers have, K’Andre Miller is one of the best defenders of the group. He’s a very good skater and his size gives him a big reach with his stick. Combine that with his ability to lay down hits, and you get a strong defender. He should be a top-four player at the very least when he makes the jump. He has offensive skill too – completing the package.
23: Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers
Previous Rank: 25
One of the best defensive prospects in the league, Evan Bouchard projects to be a top-two defender in the NHL. He’s a power-play quarterback with a wicked shot and a great offensive mind. He has seven games under his belt already and should see that number increase in a big way in 2020-21.
22: Alexander Romanov, Montreal Canadiens
Previous Rank: 24
Alexander Romanov is another prospect who might take some time before he hits the NHL. He’s a defenseman with speed and a good shot, but some scouts are skeptical whether or not he can make an impact in the NHL. He recently signed his entry-level deal, so he should be making the jump to the show in 2020-21. He’s one of the top defensive prospects in the league right now and proved that at the 2020 World Juniors.
21: Peyton Krebs, Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Rank: 22
Peyton Krebs is another player on this list that I think could very easily shoot up and prove this ranking wrong. He’s a well-rounded prospect that brings an offensive flair to his game and is known as a leader. He’s a great playmaker and skater. A big selling point in Krebs’ game is his defensive skill. There aren’t many players that age that are as sound in his own zone as he is. A potential first-line centreman.
20: Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers
Previous Rank: 21
Morgan Frost is an exciting player to watch. In his last two seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he put up 221 points in just 125 games. He looks like a sure-fire top-line centreman with superstar potential. His creativity is through the roof – you don’t want to face him one on one. He needs to improve his skating, and if he does, the NHL should watch out. He’s already been playing with the Flyers, and shouldn’t be on this list much longer.
19: Philip Broberg, Edmonton Oilers
Previous Rank: 18
Philip Broberg seemed to be a polarizing prospect ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft. Some scouts had him high, some very low. The Oilers decided high was the right option, taking him eighth overall. He’s an elite skater who can blow by entire teams when his wheels get going. He’s solid offensively as well, as a set-up man from the point. He needs to fine-tune his game, but there’s lots to like about Broberg.
18: Drake Batherson, Ottawa Senators
Previous Rank: 19
Drake Batherson dominated the AHL in his rookie campaign, earning a brief stint in the NHL where he came in like a wrecking ball before tapering off. He’s always a threat when he’s on the ice, whether it’s through a hot or a pass. He’s a core piece of the Senators rebuild, and likely won’t be on this list for very long.
17: Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings
Previous Rank: 16
A very strong skater, Joe Veleno is another player that could move off of this list in the 2020-21 season. While his skating is his most attractive quality, there is lots to like about this prospect. He’s a possession beast, with high zone entry totals annually. He can score and he can dish them out, combining to make him an offensive threat whenever he hits the ice. If it’s not this year, Veleno will be an NHLer by next season.
16: Nicholas Robertson, Toronto Maple Leafs
Previous Rank: 54
Nicholas Robertson has impressed early on, but there’s still work to be done for the young forward. He can put up the points, he’s creative and has great offensive instincts. His skating has been a knock against him, and he needs to improve in his own end, but there’s lots to like for this player who was just four days away from being eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft instead of 2019. I think he’s going to be a steal – if he’s not already.
15: Liam Foudy, Columbus Blue Jackets
Previous Rank: 52
Foudy’s bread and butter is his skating, which is a thing of beauty. He has an enormous amount of skill and is incredible with the puck. Once he fine-tunes his play in his own end, he will be a top-six player for the Blue Jackets. He showed what he can do in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and he’s very likely to stick with the big club in a big way in 2020-21.
14: Arthur Kaliyev, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 15
Many in the hockey world were shocked when Arthur Kaliyev slipped to the 33rd selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. Some scouts had him going in the top-10 or the teens at the least. Either way, this pick is going to look like highway robbery down the road. Kaliyev is a pure sniper, finishing 2018-19 with 51 goals and 102 points. Yeah, he can set-up goals, too. Imaging Kaliyev and Alex Turcotte one day playing together for the Kings should get fans very excited.
13: Alex Newhook, Colorado Avalanche
Previous Rank: 23
Alex Newhook is known for his speed. He can leave defenders in a cloud of snow behind him, and that alone makes him a high-end prospect. He’s an offensive weapon, capable of making a great play or finding the back of the net himself. He’s strong in his own end as well and projects to be a top-six player in the NHL. He’s a potential star.
12: Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals
Previous Rank: 20
Connor McMichael came to play this season. His play all-around is incredible. He’s an offensive weapon, with excellent vision, and a shot to be envious of. He seems to have gained confidence since being drafted, creating a dangerous player for all of his opponents. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take another big step forward in 2020-21.
11: Grigori Denisenko, Florida Panthers
Previous Rank: 13
Grigori Denisenko might just be one of the most underrated prospects in the league. He doesn’t get discussed a whole lot, but there’s no question that he’s one of the best prospects out there. He’s a great skater, with some of the best puckhandling skills not in the NHL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some refs stop play to see if he has the puck on a string. He sets the pace when he’s on the ice and should be an elite, top-line player in the NHL.
10: Vasily Podkolzin, Vancouver Canucks
Previous Rank: 14
It will be some time before we see Vasily Podkolzin hit North America, but the build-up will be worth it. He never stops playing at 100 percent, resulting in him making an impact every time he hits the ice. He’s creative, has a great shot, and can make plays as well. There’s been some concern about his skating, but with a year left on his contract in the KHL, that should improve before he hits the NHL.
9: Ty Smith, New Jersey Devils
Previous Rank: 12
Watching Devils prospect Ty Smith play, you can see that he knows everything that’s happening on the ice. He can see where everyone is but what makes him a great prospect is his ability to see where players are going to be. He can make a big stretch pass or carry it up himself, making a play in the offensive end. He should be a top-two defender very soon.
8: Barrett Hayton, Arizona Coyotes
Previous Rank: 10
The fifth-overall pick in 2018, Barrett Hayton is an absolutely dominant player. He can play in either end and there really isn’t any flaw in his game. He can shoot, pass, defend, deke, and do just about anything else you ask of him. He’s a very likely candidate to be a full-time NHLer in 2020-21 as a part of a very young and exciting Coyotes squad. He showed exactly what he’s capable of at the 2020 World Juniors and I can only imagine that Coyotes’ management were smiling the whole time.
7: Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
Previous Rank: 7
Moritz Seider already has NHL size, he’s a great passer, a good skater, and can win battles along the boards. What might be most impressive is his defensive game. Seider seems to remain calm in all situations and make the right decision to get the puck out of his own end. Many defenders at this stage in their careers need to focus on their defending ability, and while there’s room to improve, the German prospect is starting at a very advanced stage.
6: Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild
Previous Rank: 8
A strong skater who is difficult to knock off of the puck, Kirill Kaprizov is blessed with soft hands and a lethal shot. The Russian already excels at the professional level and will surely improve as he gains greater experience. He’s an elite offensive threat that should be able to transition straight into the Wild’s top-six. This season, he became the youngest player to hit 100 points in the KHL. He’s going to be a star.
5: Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens
Previous Rank: 5
Cole Caufield is an elite skater and a pure goal-scorer. He has a full arsenal of shots, all of which can result in the puck in the back of the net. The Canadiens have a future superstar in their system, even if he spends a couple of seasons developing before he gets to the NHL. He’s already considered a steal at 15th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
4: Dylan Cozens, Buffalo Sabres
Previous Rank: 6
Taken seventh overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Dylan Cozens is an all-around stud, capable of playing in any situation and excelling. He’s an elite talent with high-end skating and creativity with the puck. I think he has a great chance to see the NHL in 2020-21.
3: Alex Turcotte, Los Angeles Kings
Previous Rank: 2
Alex Turcotte was the best two-way centre in the draft, and just might be the team’s next Anze Kopitar. He’s an excellent skater, can pile up the points, and is an elite prospect in the league. He’s an absolute threat every time he hits the ice. There really isn’t any clear flaw in his game. I’d expect to see the star prospect see some NHL time in 2020-21.
2: Bowen Byram, Colorado Avalanche
Previous Rank: 1
Bowen Byram is a great skater with an ability to surprise opposing players with his speed. His vision allows him to make big passing plays, and he isn’t afraid to play physically. He handles the puck very well and has a quick, hard shot that can fool goaltenders. His will very soon be quarterbacking the Avalanche’s power play and leading the breakouts from his own end.
1: Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks
Previous Rank: 3
Trevor Zegras looks to be an elite, impact player in the league. A great, creative playmaker that should be the club’s next number-one centre. He adds a surprisingly quick shot and good speed to his list of attributes. As he continues to grow and improve, he could become one of the best centres in the game. He should see some NHL action this season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stick.
Who’s too low? Who’s too high? Who do you think should have made the list? Leave a comment below!